Green Event Guide


Planning a fantastic event on or off campus? Make sure you keep it green by following these sustainability tips and alternatives so your events leave a lasting impact on your attendees and not on the planet.



When picking the location for your event consider:


Opt for event locations with easy access to public transportation, biking, or walking paths, and promote carpooling and ride-sharing to and from events.


Maximize natural light in event spaces to save energy. Consider outdoor event venues whenever possible.

Virtual Attendance

Offer virtual attendance options to avoid greenhouse gas emissions related to travel.



When sending out invitations:

Avoid Paper Waste

Opt for virtual invites through social media, eventbrite, or email.

Encourage Attendees to BYOReusables

When sending out invitations, remind attendees to bring reusable water bottles and utensil kits to help limit the usage of single-use plastic bottles, cups, and utensils.

Help Attendees Get There Sustainability

Encourage guests to make sustainable transportation choices on their way to the event by sharing information about nearby bus stops, metro stations, or options for carpooling with colleagues.



When ordering food for your event:

Reduce Food Waste

Only order the necessary amount of food to reduce potential waste, and work with the Office of Sustainability to compost waste and to give away any leftover food.

Request composting and food recovery services at your event.

Go Plant-Based

The GW Office of Sustainability follows the principles of Greener by Default when hosting events. Offering plant-based meals as the default can reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to food up to 40%, and promotes inclusivity for people with a variety of dietary needs.

Some of our favorite vegan and vegetarian-friendly spots in town include HipCityVeg, DC Vegan, Shouk, and Falafel Inc.

Prioritize Sustainable Delivery and Catering

When placing your food order, ask if the restaurant can avoid using plastic packaging and for no single-use plastic utensils or dinnerware to be included with the order.

For formal catered events, opt for catering partners with sustainability initiatives. A few options we recommend include Root and Stem Catering, Windows Catering, Ridgewells Catering, Creative Catering DC, and Well Dunn Catering.


Giveaways & Merch

When ordering giveaway items or merchandise for an event:

Gift Experiences

Avoid giveaways that will end up in the trash by gifting experiences as prizes.

Choose Socially Responsible Items

If merchandise is essential, opt for environmentally and socially responsible items such as reusable bags, water bottles, or apparel made from sustainable materials. Choose items with specific and practical usefulness for the intended recipients.




When picking decorations for your event:

Go Natural

Avoid plastic decorations and opt for seasonal and natural elements instead. Consider potted plants or living centerpieces that can be repurposed after the event.

Not able to use plants or flowers? Opt for decorations you are more likely to reuse in the future. 

Shop Local

Purchase decorations from small local businesses instead of big box stores. Opt for decorations that can be reused for future events.




To avoid waste at your event:

Say NO to Plastic

Consistent with GW policy, GW funds should not be used to purchase single-use plastics such as plastic bottled water. Instead, provide water pitchers and paper cups, and encourage attendees to bring their own reusable water bottle. Provide condiments or coffee fixings in bulk containers instead of single-use plastic packets.

Think Reusable & Compostable!

Opt for reusable or compostable cutlery and serving utensils. Ensure recycling, landfill, and compost bins are available and clearly labeled.

Go Paperless

Share reference materials digitally instead of printing individual copies.

Request Composting or Food Recovery Services at your Event

Learn more about GW's Past Plastic Initiative